The Spirit of ‘17
It was called “The Spirit of ’76”. We all know the story, the poor rabble that were the American colonists rise up against the mightiest empire the world had seen at that point. England was approaching its apex; the sun was already not setting on the British Empire. Somehow improbable heroes rise up out of the Colonies to rally the people to unite for liberty.
We know about The Sons of Liberty. However, “The Spirit of ’76” was embodied in its prolific pamphlet authors. The leaders of The Sons of Liberty were among those pamphleteers. At first pleading with King George III to restore their rights as Englishmen who happen to live across an ocean. Than the tone of the pamphlets changed. The most famous pamphlet is Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense”. However, pamphlet writing was common place. With no TV, radio, or internet all they had were books, newspapers, broadsides, and pamphlets. Arguing politics in public even amongst loyalists was a colonial past time, but it was mainly for men in taverns. Pamphlet writing was for well-bred people not taken to frequenting taverns.
Women were among the most prolific pamphlet writers. One of the most influential was Abigail Warren, wife of one of the Sons, Dr. James Warren, not to be confused with the other Son, the heroic Dr. Joseph Warren. Among the famous and influential woman known for her biting writings was Abigail Adams. Yes, that Abigail Adams, however neither woman wrote under their own name. Most people didn’t, remember what was being talked about in these pamphlets was in fact treason.
Even “Common Sense” was originally published with the byline “an Englishman”. The actual revolution of thought took root in the Committees of Correspondence and on the opinion pages of colonial newspapers and other publications of the day.
Before you reach the idea of revolting against a sitting government you have to define the reasons for such a revolution. Our original Revolution had the benefit of taking place simultaneously with “The Age of Enlightenment”. It was about ending the idea that a king or queen along with all of their heirs, are ordained by God, to rule a nation. It was about ending the control of religion over society.
The revolution Sen. Sanders called for throughout this most recent campaign is taking place simultaneously during what may well become known as “The Age of Regression”. Too many lawmakers openly put the bible ahead of our various constitutions. “The Age of Enlightenment” was about throwing off the church as the governing body of society. Today’s Evangelical Christian conservatives, that dominate the Republican Party, would flip that paradigm on its head. In 1776 their thinking was represented by the Anglican ministers that rallied their parishioners to loyalty to the king.
The Republican Party’s base includes climate deniers, religious zealots, simple bigots, and conservatives who have long complained that they want to “take back their country”. The problem is the majority of the Tea Party & Freedom Caucuses are from states that were not a part of the Thirteen. The members that are, represent areas that in 1776 were hotbeds of loyalism; they considered King George III a benevolent monarch. They would have been the pamphleteers for the Tory side of the argument that was decided by The Revolutionary War.
Today anyone can express an opinion while writing under a nom de plume. It is possible to say whatever comes to your mind and it will be available to pretty much everyone in the world. You are not limited to 140 characters at a time. There are many social media platforms. These are today’s Committees of Correspondence. This is where revolution begins.
The Internet in total is the biggest experiment in free speech ever. This has been said so often it’s a cliché now. So is the idea that the Internet has given rise to a fracture along liberal and conservative lines of thought. All that free speech has brought out an ugly fact. Our fellow citizens are not very nice.
Sec. Clinton’s deplorable comment did ring true with most of her supporters. It was supposed to, it was insulting to Mr. Trump’s supporters. It was meant to be insulting. Social media platforms are hosts to this kind of insult hurling. I engage in it all the time. It is part of the same kind of vitriolic rhetoric that was at the heart of the “Spirit of ’76.” However, while I’m doing my best to mimic the satirical humor of a Mort Sahl or a Tommy Smothers, others are doing their best to mimic the rhetoric of Governors Wallace and Maddox.
This past election over 40% of eligible voters sat it out. That 40% is the mandate that government, from the smallest town council to the United States Congress, needs to hear. Nearly half of the citizenry doesn’t give a shit.
The politician that comes along, wakes that 40% up and unites them as a group will do three things. One they will instantly create the largest of three parties in a newly formed three-party system. Two, they will attract disillusioned Democrats who feel the party has been dragged too far to the center by the Clintons. Three, they will attract silent Republican moderates, members of the GOP who find their moral beliefs no longer align with the platform of the GOP. A new party can start with a new viewpoint on governing, while taking the best planks of both parties. It then incorporates them into a new party’s platform which hopefully will attract members from all segments of society.
This is where a revolution truly begins. It begins with reasoned arguments. Samuel Adams did not rally the Sons of Liberty in Boston by running around dressed like the fictional Benjamin Martin going off to revenge his sons, he did it with words. Words that that inspired. Words of reasoned thought carried the goals of “The Cause” to others, to James Otis, Jr., Paul Revere, his cousin John, along with John Hancock, and many more.
Samuel Adam’s “Journal of the Times or Journal of Occurrences” were the precursor to today’s news agencies spreading news of the challenges facing the various chapters of The Sons of Liberty via Post Riders to the rest of colonies. One of the major advantages the colonists enjoyed throughout the revolt was Ben Franklin’s Post Riders who were naturally colonists. They were long organized to carry messages (mail) from colony to colony as fast as possible.
Today we have the instant communication of the Internet. From the first “Hi, where are you?” typed in a chat room the nexus between mainstream media and individual internet users was forged. The first chat room I visited was called “Peacock Lounge” and was hosted by NBC.
In the mid-nineties, there was confluence of events that has shaken the American republic to its very core. First was the Internet itself, the largest experiment in free speech. With the first liberal blog post, there was a corresponding hate filled conservative blog post. Chat rooms of every political ilk popped up all over the early internet. Next came Rupert Murdoch and Fox News.
Australia sent us a newspaper magnate. Did we get the Aussie version of Joseph Pulitzer or Katherine Graham? No. We got the Aussie version of William Randolph Hearst; who then joins forces with Roger Ailes whose job it had been to make Richard Nixon look better on the local news broadcasts than he was looking on The CBS Evening News.
Together they began a propaganda network with the basic premise that the news organizations that set the bar for honest journalism were in fact lying to America, and had been for years. Americans shouldn’t trust them anymore. Trust us, we will be “Fair & Balanced”. What they have been doing since day one, was trying to make conservative thinking look morally American. They have long been considered the GOP cable news network.
The confluence of the internet and cable news cannot be understated. It is the path between information and action. The first part of a revolution is information. Look at how the Tea Party used it. Through repeated sharing and retweeting of the most ridiculous Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman rantings we now not only have the Tea Party Caucus, we also have the Freedom Caucus. Both caucuses so completely misunderstand “The Cause’s” republican principles and liberal ideals.
On the path to a new revolution, I attended the most recent presidential swearing in ceremony. I’m handicapped so I had an able-bodied helper with me. On our way from Union Station to the security checkpoints I saw far more groups protesting the pending swearing in ceremony than celebrating it. I intended to join up with one of these groups. In fact, I had tried to organize my own protest that was called “Permits, we don’t need no stinkin’ permits.” The response to say the least was light. Then my congressman gave me tickets to be a part of the official audience. For me, I sat through until “So help me God.” And left giving Mr. Don the single finger salute as I left.
The next day the women of America by the millions descended on Washington, DC, and dozens of our major cities to inform Mr. Don what they think of his treatment of women. That was the first display of the “Spirit of ‘17”.
That’s fine, Mr. Don went to Huntsville, WV where he could hear his cheering factions of, uneducated white people, alt-righters, KKK members, Neo-Nazis, and Neo-Confederates shouting their support. That really fired up his alt-right, passive-aggressive, white nationalist base.
Of course, he did not go to Charlottesville, VA to comfort the people of that city. They were protesting against the above list of his supporters. He instead held a rally in Phoenix where he again defended his initial response to Charlottesville. His devotees cheered wildly as he left out the “and many more, many more”. When large groups of citizens unite against his politics, the Tangerine Terror holds a cult style rally whipping up his base of deplorables.
The mayor of Phoenix quickly and forcefully condemned the rally.” But hey, Donny says I’m going there despite being unwanted by the mayor. The two US Senators didn’t go because they knew they would be rhetorically attacked by Trump. Citing his lack of leadership following Charlottesville, the Republican governor didn’t attend Trump’s cult rally. His favorability numbers will no doubt fall because of his reversal back to his message that it is the left and the media’s fault. All of it, they are the cause all of all your problems.
He also decided to “wag the dog” in Afghanistan with a primetime presidential address. Mr. Trump still doesn’t get it; he’s not an orator. An address to the nation is supposed to be substantive, it was anything but. His approval ratings are in basement, he’s simply put not liked by the majority of Americans. His base may buy this move as a military necessary but the majority of Americans will not.
Finding out how many organized pro or anti-Trump groups there on just Facebook would be a ridiculous task, as that number grows with each passing day. How do people who believe in the “Spirit of 17” join forces to effect change? They are already doing it. They are sharing reliable news information which means they purposely share stories from the Washington Post, The New York Times, CNN… From Daily KOS to ones’ own blog, people are voicing those reasoned arguments. Just as with “The Spirit of ‘76” it is many people using the communication tools available to them to voice their political opinions. What they need now is young vibrant politician to lead them.
What we first need is for the old guard of the Democratic Party to step away from the microphones. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Steny Hoyer, Sen. Chuck Schumer and Sen. Tim Kaine have served their party admirably, however in the hearts and minds of those that need awakening they are just tired old politicians saying the same tired old thing. We need their reasoned arguments in their respective Houses however the liberal agenda needs younger leadership at the fore.
Do I have someone in mind, actually yes. Will I reveal it here and risk jinxing it, absolutely not. In part while I really like the young politician I have in my mind there are many others who could fill the role. I don’t want to willy-nilly throw a name out there. I would prefer to see who is leader enough to step forward and take on the mantle of leadership. Liberal thinking leaders the ball is in your court. Sen. Sanders primed a revolution. Now it needs a leader for the coming decades, not just the coming years.
The next step for this new Committee of Correspondence is for each person to reach out to that one person you think would make the best leader. Make your best, most reasoned arguments as to why they should lead the nation. You may want to be careful straying too far down Wall Street looking for that leader.
As an activist, I’ve come to know people from both parties in my home state. I’ve sat in their offices, I’ve testified in favor of their bills. Even if I disagree with their political positions most legislators are principled people who believe in changing the rules. Our national argument has always been in which direction do we go next. We determine that by interacting with our lawmakers.
The “Spirit of 17” is alive. Look at Boston’s reaction to a “Free Speech” rally held by the above listed racists. Confederate monuments are being taken down and covered up overnight to avoid another Charlottesville. Protesters follow Trump where ever he goes. The new revolution has begun. It is now about flipping Congress on its head. It’s about waking up the 40%.